Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Archive for the category “Quick and Easy”

Cherries Jubilee

Cherries Jubilee

Cherries Jubilee is one of those desserts everyone should know how to make.  Got a boss?  Got a poopsie-kins?  How about in-laws (or people you wish were in-laws)?  If you’ve got anyone to impress, this is what you make.  How can you beat a flaming dessert?  And, though everyone at the table will certainly oooh and aaah over your sweet culinary skills, you and I will really know what a snap this is to throw together.

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Pacific Northwest Chopped Salad

Pacific Northwest Chopped Salad

It snowed buckets this morning.  I suppose February has to make amends for the absurdly mild January we had, right?  Well, you probably had one of those record-breaking, freeze-your-buns-off months, but we somehow managed to avoid all of that.  In North Central Washington.  Can you believe that?  Seriously, our high’s were up in the 40’s–even the 50’s for a few days!  Craziness.

I love this little lake town when it’s blanketed in snow.  Some of the most beautiful days are when the surrounding hills and mountains are covered in white and the lake reflects a clear blue sky.  Just gorgeous.  We definitely get all four seasons around here and I love that.

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My view this morning.

But enough about the weather.  Let’s talk food.

It’s hard to beat the Pacific Northwest when it comes to good food and this salad offers a nice little array of some of these local flavors.  From the sweet and crunchy Honeycrisp apple to the handmade Beecher’s Flagship cheese, this salad pays homage to some of our best.  It’s one of my favorites and I hope you like it, too!

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Pepper-Crusted Top Sirloin with Pinot Noir and Dried Cherries

Pepper-Crusted Top Sirloin with Pinot Noir and Dried Cherries

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so I thought it might be fun to post something to impress your sweet darling…or roommate.  Whatever.

Pan sauces are such an easy way to make any ole’ dinner special.  And, though it may seem like a little extra work, that deglazing will actually save you time come clean-up when you don’t have a crusty pan to hack away at.

I served this up to my man and the pack of monkeys just a few nights ago (I skipped the pepper crust for the kiddos’ meat) along with some star pasta (again, because I loves the kiddos) and steamed veggies.  Not a bite was left for breakfast, so I’d consider that a win!

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Caramelized Pears with Brandy and Vanilla

Caramelized Pear with Brandy and Vanilla

I just love pears and I’ll tell you, this has been a good year for pears.  Some have been so ripe they’re downright sloppy and inappropriate for public consumption…but again, oh so good.  Hopefully you’ve been enjoying a few of these yourself!

This simple preparation takes the sweet and juicy Bartlett pear to a whole new level.  Roasted and caramelized with a sweet and complex glaze, these pair beautifully with your favorite vanilla bean ice cream for a deceptively decadent dessert or atop creamy Greek yogurt for a sweet and satisfying breakfast.  Prepped in less than 10 minutes and out of the oven within 30, you’ll find this recipe is as easy as it is delicious!

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Grilled Cajun Shrimp

Cajun Shrimp

One of my favorite dishes in the world is New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp.  If you’ve never had it, you should know it isn’t really barbecued at all.  Rather, the shrimp are seasoned with herbs and spices and then cooked in compound butter and beer, amongst other things.  Served in the shell and with crusty bread, you’ll soon lose any sense of shame as you wolf down each spicy shrimp as quickly as you can peel them, no mind the sauce running down your arms (or chin).

These little lovelies are a bit different.  While I didn’t want anything swimming in butter on such a hot summer day, I did want that flavor.  And how can you go wrong with grilled shrimp?  So I tossed together a marinade with many of the star ingredients found in barbecue shrimp, skewered the lot, and then threw them on the grill.  The results, I must say, were delicious.  Though they really can’t be compared to the real thing, these were loaded with flavor and perfect for a hot summer night.  Crack open your favorite beer and enjoy!

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Mongolian Beef with Broccoli

Mongolian Beef with Broccoli

This is so delicious.  I would say it’s like your favorite Chinese take-out, but it’s probably better.  Stir-fried strips of steak, lightly steamed broccoli, and crisp water chestnuts are tossed in a sweet and savory sauce with just the right amount of heat for a quick dinner any night of the week.  This time around, I happened to serve it atop udon noodles, though I’ve often done rice instead.  Either way, you are going to love it.

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Creamy Tomato Cheddar Soup

Tomato Cheddar Soup

I’ve always hated Campbells tomato soup.  Sometimes I would try to like it to no avail.  Not even when paired with a grilled cheese sandwich.  This naturally led me to the belief that I simply hated tomato soup, and that was all there was to it.

Then one day it happened.

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Pan-Seared Venison Backstrap in Merlot-Dijon-Cream Sauce

Venison with Merlot-Dijon-Cream Sauce

God bless the hunters in my family.  Last time my folks came out to visit, my step-dad lovingly brought me several cuts of both elk and deer meat.  Needless to say, I was way excited, especially when I saw one of the packages was labeled backstrap.  For those of you unfamiliar with venison, the backstrap is a long muscle that runs down the length of the deer’s spine, also known as the tenderloin.  So basically, backstrap is the filet mignon of venison.  Because it is a muscle that is rarely used, it is exceptionally tender and also happens to be very lean.  On top of all this, venison–like other wild game–is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, not to mention iron, zinc, B vitamins, and a host of other nutrients.

This particular prep is incredibly delicious.  It’s an adaptation from Wolgang Puck’s Pan-Seared Beef Filets in Port-Dijon-Cream Sauce, which can be found in Wolfgang Puck Makes it EasyI received an autographed copy from my in-laws and have loved everything I’ve tried thus far.  With each recipe, Wolfgang tries to bring the big, complex flavors of restaurant cuisine to the home cook with his own tricks of the trade.

When I first made this recipe, I used top sirloin and because I don’t keep port on hand, I reached for the merlot.  I couldn’t be happier with the results.  Pan sauces really work wonders for seared meats.  The basic method is to first sear your meat on both sides in a super hot pan that’s been drizzled with a bit of oil.  If you have a pan that isn’t nonstick, USE IT.  You’ll get a much better sear this way.  Once nicely browned on each side, the meat is removed to a plate and the pan deglazed.  This is done by pouring in a liquid–in this case, wine–and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.  These little bits, also called fond, are full of flavor.  Plus, by doing this simple step, you’ll actually be making your clean-up much easier.  No crusty pan to scour later!  Once deglazed, other ingredients are added, such as cream, herbs, butter, or other seasonings to create a delicious sauce for serving.  Trust me, though it may seem like a little extra work, you’ll not only save on the clean-up but you’ll also impress anyone at the table that night.

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Kotopoulo Riganato tis Skaras (Broiled Chicken Oregano)

Here is another great recipe from The Complete Book of Greek CookingAs you’ll recall, I’ve been cooking up and posting adaptations of these recipes and thus far, they have been great.  I definitely recommend it if you are looking for some seriously good, home-style Greek cooking.

If you’re like me (and many of my clients), you are always on the lookout for new ways to cram some flavor into chicken breasts.  Not only does this recipe deliver big garlic and oregano flavor, but it is also super easy.  Bonus?  You can add this one to your arsenal of heart healthy recipes.  A quick word regarding cooking method here:  While you can certainly broil the chicken, I’m always quick to fire up the grill.

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Pico de Gallo

pico de gallo

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE pico de gallo.  Really and truly, the chips are just a carrier as I obscenely pile on this deliciously fresh salsa and shovel it down the hatch.  So good.   And even better?  It is so good for you!  Not only is it low in calories, but it is loaded with a variety of vitamins and antioxidants.  Plus, the capsaicin found in spicy peppers has been associated with heart health, not to mention possible metabolism-boosting properties and appetite suppression–helpful if you are trying to shed a few pounds.

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